Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 25 – “The chair episode”

Yesterday Chris had an appointment with a financial advisor.  He’s the guy who is handling the stocks that she received as her inheritance when her Mom died.  Chris got a nasty letter last week telling her that if she didn’t make contact with the financial advisor company, then the account would be turned over to the state as inactive.  Scary stuff, huh?  So she called and made an appointment to touch base with him.  He suggested they meet at Sugar Bean, a coffee shop in a local planned community.  I went along for moral support, primarily.  And to help her remember what questions she thought up when we were on our walk. 

The advisor bought me a cup of coffee and we went to the coffee shop’s outdoor seating where we hoped it would be a little quieter.  There wasn’t any talking to compete with, but there was construction going on that made it necessary to raise our voices every now and then.  I’m such a quiet guy by nature that I kind of sat back in my chair and watched the proceedings, only occasionally adding or requesting some words of clarification.  All’s right with the world. 

Until … I noticed a date that the guy had written down on a piece of paper that didn’t look like the date Chris had given him for something.  So I shifted in my chair just a little bit forward to double-check what I was seeing before saying anything.  And then it happened.  Perfect place for a cliff-hanger here, isn’t it?  I’ll be kind …

The chair underneath me began to sway, and it wasn’t a rocker.  And in slow motion one side completely gave way.  And on the way down, the other side gave way.  And just before I hit the ground the armrest collapsed.  And as I fell backward when the chair back collapsed, the other armrest crumbled with me.  Every single place there was a connection, a bolt or a screw of any kind, that place severed and flattened.  By the time my little adventure was complete, you could have picked up the pieces and repackaged them.  It was like I had been sitting in a joke chair and someone pulled the string.  The advisor guy was standing over me.  Construction workers began picking up the pieces of the dead chair.  Someone said they would go get the manager, and soon she was in the mix, asking for my contact information and giving me the owner’s name and contact info and assuring me that the manager would give me a call.  With some help I made my way to my feet.  I was at first most worried about my back, but it was my knee that barked at me as I rose.  It had twisted beneath me under the chair.  I guess that’s why it took so long to completely flatten out.  The manager kept asking if I was all right and if I needed anything.  Several people offered to get me a chair, but I opted to spend the rest of our time together sitting on a concrete barricade.  The construction workers were impressed, and more than a little amused by my choice.  We were able to finish our meeting without any more slapstick interruptions. 

I wondered how the knee would feel this morning. It is certainly sore, but I don’t think I am any worse for wear.  I suppose if the owner calls or if it starts really bothering me, I could go get it checked out.  I do have a full day today, though.  We’ll see …

Psalms 54:4 says, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”

Father, thank you for the concern expressed by the advisor and manager and especially the construction workers.  Give them all a peaceful day today.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24 – “The Card”

I passed another huge milestone yesterday.  Guess what I received in the mail?  I am now a card-carrying member of none other than … Medicare.  Well, Medicare Parts A and B.  Actually, it’s not really good yet.  The start date is listed as August, my birth month.  Now that I have The Card I am supposed to look into hooking up with a Part C and D plan.  Not sure yet where to go for that.  Probably somewhere that identifies itself with random letters.  You know … like AARP.  Guess there will be some internet searching in my immediate future.

Last night we forayed into Texas for Jachin’s baseball game.  He was the starting pitcher.  I have to say I was impressed.  It was almost like watching the Astros with Dallas Keuchel pitching.  He struck out a few guys, but primarily induced a lot of ground balls.  The three balls hit into the outfield were soft popups.  He gave up three runs, but only one of them was earned.  Now for the bad news.  His defense was pretty bad.   The second baseman couldn’t field the ground balls hit to him.  And one the one he did manage to corral, the first baseman was nowhere near the bag, so he had no one to throw it to.  And I mentioned the popups?  Not a single one was caught.  They dropped within an arm’s reach of the fielder each time.  Now the infield did turn two double plays, so kudos to them on that.  And one of them ended the game.  After Jachin’s reliever took over, he moved to play first base.  And the very next inning he came up to bat second.  The first batter got a hit and quickly stole second and third.  Jachin then hit a resounding double over the left fielder’s head.  His teammates came through behind him, and they tied the score.  Later in the game they scratched across one other run, and after that double play came home with the win.  See?  Sounds a lot like the Astros when Keuchel is pitching.  Not so much like the Astros last night, though.  They lost 2-0.  Never could get a hit with runners in scoring position.  So … nice job Jachin.  Your old DadDad is proud of you.

Psalms 52:9 says, “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.  I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

Father, thank you for the chance the kiddos have to play baseball.  Help them to learn the right things from the sport.  Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23 – “What’s a Servolution?”

Once again we had better than fifty folks worshipping at Seaside Sunday morning.  Good mix of old-timers, new residents, and first time visitors.  They were treated to the debut of Corey’s new electric violin.  Great sound.  The praise team as usual did a super job of leading us.  Thanks to those guys (and gal) for their hard work. 

Servolution is rapidly approaching.  What’s a Servolution?  That’s a time when, over a two day period (May 5-6), churches all over Galveston are doing ministry projects that somehow connect them to their community.  Seaside’s project centers around the fact that we are a voting center for the city elections on the 5th.  We will be providing snacks and drinks for the voters and election officials that day.  So … anybody who wants to be a part of this particular ministry can show up any time after 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 5th, snacks in hand.  Vote if you haven’t.  Then stick around and greet people as they arrive.  Great opportunity for us to connect with the community and be good hosts at the same time. 

We enjoyed a good meal after church.  Not dinner on the grounds this time, though.  A small group of us met over at Salsa’s.  And what made it a good meal?  Not so much the food as the company, of course.  Well, that and the fact that the Astros game was playing on the TV in the restaurant.  Robert and I appreciated that foresight.  In case you missed it, Astros won 6-1, and Dallas Keuchel finally got his first win of the season after three hard luck losses.  Next they play the Angels.  I think that’s the team with the Babe Ruth-ish guy from Japan who pitches and bats at a high level.  Should be some fun. 

Psalms 52:8 says, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.”

Father, thank you for ministry minded believers and lunch-just-for-fun friends.  Amen.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22 – “A Tale of Awakenings”

What’s that sound?  We have all been awakened at one time or another with the query in our minds if not on our lips.  And this week already we have heard the expression flow from our lips not once, but twice, and in very different circumstances.

The first one happened yesterday morning.  We were enjoying our morning coffee.  Chris was reading the newspaper.  I had already been working on the computer for quite some time.  A pleasant morning.  Until we heard it.  Neither of us could place it at first.  It was not an altogether unpleasant sound.  And it was unmistakably coming from out in our front yard.  Chris made the first speculation as to its origin, and a quick reconnaissance mission proved her correct.  From the porch next door a melody was wafting … from a little girl playing an accordion.  Not at all what I expected.

The second strange sound was not nearly so pleasing to the ears.  It happened around 12:30 a.m.  Yep.  About as early on a Sunday morning as is possible.  I had just rolled over in bed and was listening to the rain fall.  Certainly a pleasant sound, and it was doing its part to lull me back to sleep.  But then … a loud boom cracked through the night sky.  It was not thunder.   That I could tell right away.  But what was it?  The disconcerting thing was that it seemed to have come from right outside our bedroom window.  And the only thing out there is … our air conditioner.  I groaned, assuming some power surge had caused the unit to blow out.  Great.  Just what we needed, another big expense.  But then the unit slowly and angrily kicked back on.  Hmm.

I lay awake, pondering this strange explosion.  Suddenly, it happened again … Boom.  This time my eyes were open, and I saw the flare of light that accompanied the sound.  Again, not lightening unless it was hitting right outside our window.  Chris woke up fully this time as well.  I got out of bed to investigate, as if there might actually be something I could do about it.  And as I made my way into the office, another flare, and other explosion.  And this time the electricity went out.  I was up anyway, so I grabbed a flashlight and went to the front door to see how widespread this phenomenon was.  Boom, another one.  And then as I started across the street I saw a transformer on a pole behind our neighbor’s house explode in a shower of sparks.  And with that, the other side of the street went dark as well.  It didn’t take long for our neighbor to poke her head out with a flashlight of her own.  We are all creatures of curiosity at heart.  I told her it appeared that transformers were apparently blowing all over the neighborhood, and we both returned to our respective black holes for the duration of the outage.  At Chris’ urging, I unplugged the computer.  I also pulled the phone number of the power company and dialed in to report the situation.  But before they even answered I heard the telltale signs of life returning.  The printer came on and started its warmup run.  The ovens made their required warning beeps.  The refrigerator groaned back to life.  I hung up the phone and made my way back to bed, listening all the while for the one appliance I was now concerned about.  Nothing.  I returned to bed, now wide awake, of course, and continued to listen.  Nothing.  And I completed two crossword puzzles.  Nothing.  But as I began work on the third, there it was.  The air conditioner unit kicked to life again.  Cool air flowed from the vents once again.  And sleep overtook me.

Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Father, thank you for safety during the explosions and outage last night.  Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21 – “Plevilege”

We attended the University of Texas Medical Branch nursing school graduation yesterday.  One of our Seasiders got her bachelor’s degree and one of the fire fighters’ wives got her master’s degree.  I just had to change an apostrophe in that last sentence.  As I first typed it, one fire fighter had multiple wives.  As far as I know that is not the case for any of our guys.  But then if it was, I guess he wouldn’t go out of his way to tell me about it …

There was some unwanted action way back near the rear of the convention center where we were sitting.  I never saw it, but Chris watched the whole thing with her keenly tuned nurse’s eye.  Apparently a gentleman in a wheelchair was being hurriedly wheeled out of the facility.  Sadly, they didn’t make it.  He vomited several times all over the center aisle during the guest speaker’s recitation of UTMB history.  To their credit, Moody Gardens custodial crews leapt into action with mops and towels and buckets and sanitizer.  They had the entire aisle cleaned and ready to go before the speaker even finished talking.  And by the time the graduates filed out, all was well in their world.   Nice job by one of those under-appreciated groups that make big events like that one go so smoothly.

I picked up a brand new word of the week from one of the bigwigs who had things to say yesterday.  “Plevilege.”  Apparently it is a brand new, scholarly combination of the words “pleasure” and “privilege.”  At least those were the two she referenced when she broke down her word usage.  Always happy to add a new word to my vocabulary, especially one so intellectual.

After the graduation we went cross the street to see what all the racket was about.  Janell told us it was coming from their garage.  Sure enough, when I opened the door, there stood a classic garage band, practicing in all their glory.  Salty Sounds, featuring John on guitar, Jim on guitar, and Corey on his new electric violin, were jamming to prepare for several gigs they have coming up.  One is for the local Meals on Wheels banquet.  For that one they had a special request from the organizer.  Ready for this one?  “This Little Light of Mine.”  I happen to know the guy, so I told Jim to have him join them for that one, only make him sing it in Spanish.  He spent many years as a missionary in South America. 

Psalms 51:15 says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Father, be with all those graduates as they head out to the next phase of their journey.  Be especially Melissa and Monica because … well, because I know them.  Amen.

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20 – “Snappy summaries”

How about a quick car update?  We have been home for a few days now, and so far both of the evil warning lights have stayed off.  I am guardedly optimistic that perhaps a miraculous recovery has occurred. 

A new problem has surfaced, however.  This one has nothing to do with the car, though.   My right ear hearing aid has developed a little tiny crack in it.  And hearing aids are little tiny anyway, so in the grand perspective of things, the crack is probably huge.  It doesn’t really affect the hearing amplification properties, so that’s a plus.  It just makes it very difficult to push the thing into my ear when my fingernail gets stuck inside the little crack.  Trip to the audiologist, coming up.

The whole morning was spent toiling over the sermon for Sunday.  It’s what happens when we take off for a day or two.  Still have to do the preparations for Sunday.  I’ll have some more work on that today.  So much for this day off. 

I finally made a trip to fire station five when little Quinn’s Daddy was on duty.  I have had a Baby Bible for the little guy ever since he was born months ago.  Never have been able to connect with his Dad.  In fact I had it all packaged up to mail in the event Daddy wasn’t at the station this time.  But all is good.  Delivery made.  Sorry about the delay, Quinn.

After a quick trip to Randall’s for some fruit and dog food and a prescription pick-up, I flipped on the Astros game.  It seems their bats have finally been awakened.  They did pull off one of the most bonehead plays I have ever seen, though.  Runners on first and second.  Gattis checks his swing and sends a grounder to third.  The defender fields it, steps on third and throws to second to complete the double play.  But Gattis turned toward the infield and started walking right through the infield toward the third base dugout.  The second baseman tossed the ball to the first baseman, who tagged him out for a triple play.  Guess he thought there were already three outs.  That’s gotta be embarrassing.

Home group went well.  Corey got his new electric violin.  Bryan had a job interview.  Lauren is now wearing a Jennifer-boot to see if they can take some pressure off of her bad foot.  Mrs. Betty has just “not been feeling peppy lately.”  Barbara had a pacemaker installed.  Oh, and the bee guy came while we were gone and absconded with the queen.  The hordes should be dissipating now, and just in time.  Our summer crowds will be coming soon to the retreat center.

Psalms 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Father, thank you for the concern of a small group for each other and for our extended group of families and friends.  Amen.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19 – “I was awake”

And we are back home.  No short cuts this time.  Right from Waco to Galveston.  Shortest regular route available on Google.  Actually it would be more accurate to say the route came from Chris’ head.  She has it memorized.  And I so trust her and her driving and her memorization skills that I must confess I slept much of the way home.  I tried to stay awake, mind you.  Even read a few chapters of a Harry Potter book.  To no avail. 

I was awake for the stop in College Station.  That’s “our place” to eat lunch.  Cracker Barrel.  Chris had the daily special – chicken pot pie.  I had chicken fried chicken, fried okra, green beans and macaroni and cheese.  Way too much food.  But they have take-home containers for that.  Now we have another meal awaiting us.

I was awake for the stop at Buc-ees, too.  At least I think I was.  I looked up as we entered the parking lot to see a huge beaver walking across the parking lot.  He was wearing a shirt, too.  I shook my head to clear out the cobwebs, but I know it was real, because Chris was telling me to get out the camera.  I was too slow on the draw, though.  We did manage to grab a long distance shot of him as we left, however.  Wow.  The real Buc-ee in person.  How lucky was that?

I was awake when we went inside Buc-ees.  One of the girls at the register cried out her obligatory “Welcome to Buc-ees” without even looking at us.  And immediately a plan hatched in my head.  We made our trip to the facilities, and I grabbed some caramel popcorn to purchase.  And as we approached the exit, there were three empty registers.  They all invited us to be checked out.  But I smiled a knowing smile and said, “I think I’ll go to this one, because she greeted us so loudly and so warmly and with such good cheer when we first entered the store.”  Puzzled, she looked at us for the first time and said, “I did?”  I answered, “Of course you did.  And thank you so much for making us feel welcome.”  I’m not sure she’ll greet anybody ever again.

Oh, and I was awake when the Astros game started.  And I was still awake when they scored six runs in one inning.  Now that’s the Astros I came to know and love last year.  I didn’t stay awake long after that, though.  Enough awake for one day.

Psalms 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Father, thank you for a safe journey home.  It’s good to be here.  Amen.